Black Earth Rising begins with lawyer Eve Ashby (Harriet Walter) about to take on prosecuting militia leader and Hutu General Simon Nyamoya (Danny Sapani), a very controversial figure, and the case will take place at the International Criminal Court. As is quoted about his position, amongst what Trump would refer to as ‘bad dudes’, “He is not the Ace of Spades, but he’s definitely the Ten of Clubs”.
Meanwhile, coming to terms with her depression, Kate Ashby (Michaela Coel), who Eve adopted and brought up in the UK in the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda, will also take on a lawyer’s work, and under the tutilege of leading international lawyer Michael Ennis (John Goodman). Yes, John Goodman! He’s ace!
Hence, Eve is aiming to jail the man who helped free her adopted daughter, leading to *just* a bit of family tension. Eastenders this is not, but this is a similar amount of shouting in the first episode.
With the episode going from London, to the Democratic Republic of Congo, The Hague, in the Netherlands, and Rwanda, there’s great peformances from all the leads, particularly with a powerful showing from Coel, while Goodman is as laid back as ever, and I can see the building blocks of the plot coming together nicely and I do want to see more to fill in the blanks. Beforehand, I didn’t think I’d find this particularly accessible, but it certainly is a good first hour. However, I could do without the occasional arty bits in there, though, one of which came in the final scene.
Oh, and the theme is Leonard Cohen‘s You Want It Darker. I would say it’s a fantastic song, but… it’s Leonard Cohen, so you can take that as read 🙂
How did they get John Goodman for an 8-part BBC series? Well, this is a co-production between the BBC and Netflix, with the BBC having UK rights, and Netflix having the rights abroad.
Episode 2 took things up a gear following the court case in its opening scene, but did feel it offered a bit too much style over substance as it wasn’t offering much in the way of answers at this stage.
Episode 3: I wasn’t expecting the animation sequence, but it was certainly an effective way of getting across the horrendous situation regarding the genocide, whilst also doing it on a budget in that they don’t have to physically recreate the sequences. However, overall, the episode looked like the series was slipping into a case of ‘style over substance’. I hope it improves.
Episode 4 just gave us a mid-series lull where not an awful lot seemed to happen that wasn’t horrendously predictable or complete nonsense, and a mixture of style over substance, and leaving me what on Earth is going on… Is it just me who thinks this?
Episodes 5, 6 and 7 – I’m sticking with this but each episode has felt like 20 minutes of plot and 40 minutes of arty camera angles and Michaela Coel angrily staring at the camera, as well as everyone talking like they’re in Last Year In Marienbad. It could easily be cut down to five episodes in total. How will the finale be?
Episode 8 came and went and was more confusing and up its own backside than normal. At least it’s finished, now.
Episode 1 Score: 7/10
Episode 2 Score: 7/10
Episode 3 Score: 5/10
Episode 4 Score: 5/10
Episode 5 Score: 3/10
Episode 6 Score: 3/10
Episode 7 Score: 3/10
Episode 8 Score: 1/10
Director: Hugo Blick
Producers: Abi Bach and Hugo Blick
Writer: Hugo Blick
Music: Martin Phipps
Eve Ashby: Harriet Walter
Kate Ashby: Michaela Coel
Michael Ennis: John Goodman
Alice Munezero: Noma Dumezweni
Eunice Clayton: Tamara Tunie
Bibi Mundanzi, the Rwandan President: Abena Ayivor
David Runihura, Special Advisor to the President of Rwanda: Lucian Msamati
Sophie Barré: Aure Atika
Simon Nyamoya: Danny Sapani
Patrice Ganimana: Tyrone Higgins
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.